Barack Obama, Kanye West and Media Responsibility

Obama curses, the statement gets tweeted and the world agrees, but is it the end of Twitter?

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Kanye West has been a lightning rod for as long as he's been famous, but he's never received a presidential put down. According to ABC News's Terry Moran, Barack Obama called the pop star a "jackass" for interrupting Taylor Swift's award speech. Who is more accountable for the incident Obama or Moran? And could this be the beginning of the end for free-flowing tweets?

Obama Was Right

  • It's All Good, says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. "This, methinks, is the classic win-win. Obama gets the credit for saying what everyone’s thinking and yet can’t be criticized for being 'unpresidential' because the unpopular media broke his confidence in reporting it."
  • Just Keep it Real, says Clifton B at Another Black Conservative. "A president need not comment on the entire minutia of the day. Commenting on stories like and Gates, have a tendency to take on a life of their own. To make matter worse, Kanye is a loose cannon and in need of publicity. Getting into a major just up with the President of the United States will serve Kanye well, but will do nothing for you. Next time remember the two golden words: 'No comment.'

  • Change Worth Noting, says Beth Shaw at "Whatever their reasons for disapproving of Moran’s tweet, it is refreshing that the President is capable of telling the truth, even if its only ‘off the record’.

Moran Was Wrong

  • Completely Unprofessional, says Gregg Levine at FireDogLake. "Betraying one of the most sacred of the journalistic codes by publicizing an off-the-record comment (one that is of little real news value, but one that is guaranteed to cause an uproar, to boot), and betraying the confidence of a colleague—now THAT’S professional."
  • Dismissing OTR, says Chris Good from the Atlantic. He says, "Obama's descriptor isn't all that politically charged. But Moran called him out for using such base language while holding such high office. Trouble is, it wasn't supposed to be public, so maybe the expectations for presidential comportment should be relaxed." He then goes on to give a description of the importance of off the record comments. By posting his tweet, Moran could jeopardize the ability for "the interviewer and the interviewee to be themselves... If Obama takes heat for this, he might be more cautious about being himself around reporters."

Without pegging responsibility on either Obama or Moran, Mediaite brings an interesting angle to the debate: How will this affect the use of twitter in breaking news? Glynnis ManNicol says,

The bigger issue may be how the super-fast, unfiltered response time that Twitter allows for does not favor the “editorial process.” And whether slip ups like this (enjoyable for the public though they may be!) will cause either news organizations and/or the White House to place restrictions on Twittering. Or whether the public-at-large will merely get used to the unfiltered public figure.

News organizations will likely have to put in place some sort of Twitter policy asap if they haven’t already done so (ESPN is already there). One can only hope the powers that be will err on the side of transparency, and that one slipped jackass will not make a jackass out of everyone.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.